American Consumer Culture: Market Research and American Business 1935-1965

Project title: American Consumer Culture: Market Research and American Business 1935-1965

Project lead’s name: Erin Vonnahme


Telephone: (513) 5296650

Affiliation: LIB

Other project team members: Jenny Presnell, Stacy Brinkman, Jennifer Bazeley, Katie Gibson

Brief description of project: This project will permanently add American Consumer Culture: Market Research and American Business 19351965 to the library's collection of electronic resources. This database includes information about marketing strategies used by some of America's bestknown brands, images from advertisements, and documentation of the rise of psychological research used in advertising. This resource benefits students at the undergraduate level in many identified courses, as well as graduate students, advanced undergraduate students, and faculty conducting original research using primary source documents concerning midcentury American culture. Disciplines that may benefit include English, History, American Studies, Media/Journalism/Film, Marketing, Education, Art, Graphic Design, Women & Gender Studies, American Cultures & English, Psychology, and Business.

Does this project focus on graduate student education or graduate student life?: It has support from many graduate students with teaching assistantships. It also adds a valuable primary source database that can be used for graduate student research.

Describe the problem you are attempting to solve and your approach for solving that problem: There are a number of courses taught at Miami University that include assignments that involve researching consumer culture, media, branding, advertising, the psychology of marketing, and the impact of visual imagery. Currently, the university does not have access to any single database that is devoted to researching these fields. Consequently, students have to pore through various market reports, some of which do not go back to midcentury, or have to browse through back issues of print periodicals, many of which are being moved to offsite repositories.

By adding this database, undergraduate and graduate students as well as faculty and staff will have 24/7 access to a resource that will provide images, market research reports, and historical information that documents the impact of media on American culture and consumerism. The onetime activation fee for this database will provide Miami University with perpetual access to all of the information in American Consumer Culture: Market Research and American Business 1935-1965. There is a $154 annual maintenance fee that would be paid by the libraries. There are no additional fees: unlike many yearly subscription databases, American Consumer Culture will be available to Miami University students and faculty for as long as this resource exists.

Despite demand for this database, the initial activation price of this database ($30,875) is something that cannot be easily absorbed into the Library’s current material budget. The Miami University Libraries has not seen a budget increase in the past 6 years, despite the fact that the cost of journals and scholarly publishing has continued to rise at a rate that outpaces the consumer price index and inflation in higher education.1 It is for this reason that the library is proposing to use student technology fee funds to acquire a very desirable new resource that will be accessible to all students, and will be used widely in the curriculum of courses in multiple departments, including English, American Studies, Graphic Design, Media/Journalism/Film, Architecture, Interactive Media Studies, Teacher Education, History, Women and Gender Studies, and the American Cultures and English program. The Libraries would be able to provide $15,875 of the total cost and are requesting $15,154 from the Tech Fee budget.

The criteria state that technology fee projects should benefit students in innovative and/or significant ways. How would you describe the innovation and/or the significance of your project?: This database moves students from printbased research into accessing highquality digital primary source scholarship. Some of the information in American Consumer Culture is unique to this database and not available elsewhere, making it a resource that can result in innovative new projects and original research conducted by students or faculty.

The letters of faculty support for this database (section 9) indicate some examples of how this resource could directly benefit students in innovative ways. Here are a few excerpts:

"I teach MAC 146: Media Aesthetics and MAC 208: Advertising in Consumer Culture. My classes typically enroll 125 students per semester and are taught both semesters during the regular academic year. In both classes, students complete projects that require archival research in databases that store images. It would be extremely helpful for my students to easily access such materials through our campus library." - Kathleen German , Professor, Media & Culture Department of Media, Journalism, & Film

“I think this would be a terrific resource for future social studies teachers as they construct lesson and unit plans while at Miami. I could well imagine applicability among MCE/AYA students.” - Thomas Misco, Teacher Education (Social Studies)

“I am writing to express my support for Miami University Libraries’ proposal to acquire a collection by Adam Matthew about American consumer culture. Critical analyses of how American consumer culture has shaped ideas about gender, race, class, and nationality have always been a key component to all of the classes that I teach. I imagine that both the instructors and students will find a lot of useful information from this collection, from a wide range of archival images to information on how decisions were made by big companies in creating advertisements and sales strategies. Such detailed information will allow both the instructors and students to go beyond analyses of visual rhetoric in the advertisements and their general historical background to explore the making of American consumer culture from 1935 to 1965 and its complexity in greater depth.” - YuFang Cho, English and Asian Asian American Studies and Women's and Gender Studies

“I think this database sounds fantastic! It would be an incredible resource for all ENG 111 courses during the rhetorical analysis project, as well as visual rhetoric projects in other professional writing courses. I hope you get it!” Jonathan Bradshaw, Graduate student and instructor, Dept. of English

How will you assess the project?: Usage of this database will be tracked as an electronic resource just like the library's other databases, and the usage statistics will be available to view online through regular reports. The library will also track the numbers of students introduced to this database through instruction sessions. Faculty will be consulted to help determine the impact of this resource on learning outcomes for individual courses.

Have you applied for and/or received Tech Fee awards in past years? If funded, what results did you achieve? Did you submit a final report?: No

What happens to the project in year 2 and beyond? Will there be any ongoing costs such as software or hardware maintenance, supplies, staffing, etc? How these will be funded?: The activation fee for this database is a onetime cost. There is a $154 annual maintenance fee as well as any instruction or support related to the usage of this database that will be covered by the library.

American Consume Culture Database, $15,000 one-time fee

Annual Maintenance Fee, $154 (first year only, subsequent years will be paid by the libraries)

Total budget: $15,154